Eat Pray Run DC: Take It to the Hills

Adding hill repeats to a training plan can turn you into a stronger, faster runner.

2014-07-21 07.27.28

I have been doing speed work all summer in an effort to break 2:00 in the half marathon in the fall. This has been my first training cycle where I’ve been consistent with speed work and, not surprisingly, it has paid off. A few weeks ago, my buddy and I decided to swap out our normal track repeats with hill work instead. We ran up Capitol Hill multiple times (which, many people don’t realize is an actual HILL — almost a quarter of a mile and steep!), each time cursing ourselves for deciding to that workout. However, we ran surprisingly strong and vowed to intersperse hills into our speed work every few weeks. Here are a few reasons you should do the same:

  • A change of pace from your regular speed work. Sometimes, it is just fun to do something different. We welcome the change from our usual routine and while running up Capitol Hill was certainly tough, a different workout made those repeats just fly by. It was good for our runner brains!
  • Work different muscles. In the same way that switching up runs is good for our brains, it was also good for our bodies. By running hills, you are working different muscles (and working muscles differently) than running on a flat track. I definitely felt the hills in my quads and in my butt — much more so than regular speed work!
  • Make any hilly races easier! I recently ran a very hilly 20k race out in Virginia. While it was definitely tough, I was able to crest the hills and not feel defeated. That is definitely the work of hill repeats. I also recently ran a trail that I had previously sworn off about a year ago because it features all the hills. I was surprised to see that some of my fastest splits of the day came on that same trail that absolutely killed me a year ago. I know without a doubt that my hill repeats were at work during that run.

In short, if you aren’t currently rotating in some occasional hill work during your speed sessions, you should! You’ll thank me later, I promise!

Do you take to the hills? Tweet @eatprayrundc and @womensrunning to share your best hill workout.